Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Turning Airpark Dreams Into Lifestyle Realities

The Daher-Socata TBM 850 Elite

The TBM 850 features pilot doors and a separate passenger/cargo door that's electrically operated and swings open upward with fold-out airstairs that swing down.

Use the flow pattern again to bring systems off- and online as required or desired, the latter including the inertial separator, keeping FOD (foreign object debris) out of the engine and the air-conditioner.

Typically, you'll be going up to the high teens or flight levels in this airplane, and the G1000 simplifies flight management, ensuring loading is within weight and balance limits, and tracking range and fuel while en route. Data can be entered via the bezel-mounted controls or keyboard.

For taxiing, speed is controlled by using the prop's beta range, which can also back the aircraft in or out of a tight spot on the ramp. Brakes are needed only if making a sharp turn. For takeoff, use right rudder trim and right aileron deflection, hold the brakes, bring power to 40% and confirm systems are stabilized, release the brakes and advance to 100%.

Acceleration is impressive. Rotate at 85 knots, and once the gear is up, turn on the yaw damper. The TBM needs a lot of rudder to keep the ball centered in its various configurations, and the damper takes over all rudder inputs, easing pilot workload.

En Route
We made a couple of low passes down the runway for ground-to-air photos before contacting Indy Center and picking up our clearance, our 140-knot ascent yielding about a 1,900 fpm climb rate.

The PT6A-66D, unlike the Dash 64 powering the 700, isn't torque limited; the pilot can boost the power beyond the 100% thrust the Dash 64 allows, but only when the flaps are retracted, and power must be monitored to ensure it remains within operating limitations. (The same handle that deploys the flaps activates "850 mode" when advanced from the retracted flap position.)

Thus, the extra power isn't available during takeoff or for a go-around when landing. We advanced into the 850 mode at about 7,000 feet. "Now we're the torque limiter," Sarsfield said.

At 115% torque (the G1000 identified 121.4% torque as our redline) our climb rate increased to about 2,300 fpm, consistent with book performance numbers, while we hand-flew under the guidance of the autopilot's flight director.

The 230 nm to Muncie was a walk around the block for the TBM 850 Elite, but plenty of time and distance to showcase its strengths. It can climb to 26,000 feet, where it delivers its max cruise speed of 320 knots, in about 15 minutes.


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